NINE years ago Phyllis Narula couldn’t find daycare that suited her daughter, so she took a big punt.
Ms Narula sold her Caversham home, squeezed her family into a rented duplex and put all her money into an East Fremantle childcare centre that had just 10 clients and was on the verge of folding.
Driving every day from Bayswater, trying to maintain a part-time job as a travel agent and being mum to two youngsters was a huge task, particularly given she was refurbishing the centre and had so little money she once had to take out a loan just to pay staff their wages.
“I nearly gave up,” Ms Nerula told the Herald.
“I had the paperwork ready to sign on the dotted line, then I was in America on holidays and something clicked.”
She decided the vision she had in her head for a nature-based childcare centre where parents played a big role was strong enough to persist.
“As a little girl I never had any of these plastic toys, I was always outside playing.”
Six months later Little People’s Place was booming and she was ready to buy a second centre. Now she owns 10 and her company Narula Group is worth about $10 million.
Ms Narula introduced three-monthly committee meetings for parents, which she says is just a gathering for them to give her ideas on things they’d like to see at the centre. But it’s helped foster a strong community spirit and many of them are helping out with the tots’ annual Christmas performance.
Ms Narula was recently named WA’s top entrepreneurial businesswoman at the Telstra awards, although she was pipped on the national stage. She says her next focus is on providing mentorship to her staff, many of whom have stuck with her for years.
stories by STEVE GRANT